Didactic dialogues in CW dictionaries, Part 4B (Gibbs 1863 ex phrases/sentences)
The next morsel in our buffet of delicacies from the highly fluent Chinuk Wawa speaker George Gibbs:
(Image credit: Discogs)
Alah mika chako! ‘Ah, you come!’
(alá, mayka cháku! lit. ‘wow! you come.here!’)
< A-láh > in Chinuk Wawa is an ‘expression of surprise’, an interjection, according to Gibbs.
It works much like the “discourse marker” and “evidential” particles in the Indigenous languages, for example like ƛ̓ana in Lower Chehalis Salish.
The big difference is that those particles typically tag along after the bit that they’re a comment on (like in Lower Chehalis, ʔú, ʔəláp ƛ̓ana ‘oh, it’s you folks (and I’m surprised that it’s you)!’).
In Jargon, these little expressive words can stand alone, making a sentence all by themselves — that’s an okay definition of what interjections do — and they typically come before the stuff that they’re commenting on.
That’s what we see in this example sentence from Gibbs.
But this doesn’t mean that the CW interjections trace back more to European than Indigenous influences.
For one thing, most interjections that we know of in Jargon are quite obviously words from Native tribal languages, not from Canadian/Métis French or from English.
Just think of aná! ‘oh my’, áhá! ‘OK; yes’, and ná ‘hey!’
(That’s just naming a few; I really should do a whole article just on the many interjections of Chinook Jargon, including the rich repertoire in the Victoria pop songs.)
And any Jargon interjections that we could potentially say do come from an ultimately European origin have equally solid etymologies in the Indigenous languages; here we can think of CW’s ó / ú ‘oh!’
On top of that, these Jargon interjections are used in essentially the same ways in the tribal languages, in the Indo-European languages, and in CW.
This fact removes the motivation for any strictly non-Native source attribution for the category of interjections in Chinook Jargon.
But I would claim that the eventual disappearance of almost all of the Native-sourced interjections of early-creolized southern CW does point very suggestively toward the well-known Métis and English-language influence on the Jargon through succeeding decades!